The Snowball Effect of Smart Mining Technology

GPS-enabled SmartROC D60 Inspires Confidence and Exceeds Expectations

In an industry where innovation paves the way to efficiency and safety, Luck Stone, a pioneer in aggregate production, and Epiroc, a trailblazer in mining equipment, have joined forces to usher in a new era of smart mining technology. Their collaboration highlights the transformational impact of GPS-enabled SmartROC D60 automated drill rigs equipped with the Hole Navigation System (HNS), setting a benchmark in the mining sector.

Introduction to Innovation and Precision

From 2022 to 2023, Luck Stone embarked on field trials at their Rockville and Spotsylvania, Virginia, plants to test the Epiroc SmartROC D60. These trials aimed to conquer the challenges posed by the sites' complex geologies, particularly the precision required in drilling angled holes. By integrating shot planning technology with intelligent drilling equipment, Luck Stone witnessed significant improvements across all stages of production, proving that innovative thinking, smart technologies, and strong partnerships can lead to exceptional business outcomes.


The Journey of Transformation

Luck Stone has always been at the forefront of embracing innovation, from being among the first to electrify their crushers to automating their plants in the late 1970s. Today, their focus is on equipping teams with the best in class equipment and technologies to enhance operational and human performance. The trial of the Epiroc SmartROC D60 automated drill rig at their Virginia plants represents a leap forward in realizing their mission to 'ignite human potential' by optimizing both safety and efficiency. George Feild, Blasting Manager at Luck Stone, reflects on the significance of this technological advancement: 'When we as blasters get ready to push the button, there’s no turning back. We’ve got to be able to count on the technology that’s telling us what we used to measure by hand.'

untitled-208-2-Enhanced-SR-1George Feild, Blasting Manager​, Luck Stone 

The Challenges and Solutions

The mining sites presented unique challenges, including difficult geologies that made drilling and blasting operations particularly challenging. The precision offered by the Epiroc SmartROC D60, combined with GPS-guided HNS, transformed these operations, enabling drills to accurately hit the required azimuths and depths. This synergy between 3D shot planning software and high-accuracy drilling resulted in a drastic reduction in the risk of injury and significantly sped up the shot layout process.


Results That Speak Volumes

The implementation of smart mining technology not only enhanced safety and operational efficiency but also yielded quantifiable results:

  • Reduced sub-drilling by 25%,
  • Increased borehole utilization by 13%,
  • Improved powder factor by 15%,
  • Decreased explosives costs by 16%,
  • Lowered oversized rock by 25%.

These outcomes are a testament to the power of combining advanced technologies with strategic thinking. At Rockville, for instance, the integration of the SmartROC D60 with HNS and 3D shot planning software not only expedited the design process but also improved load times and crusher throughput, contributing to a more productive and safer work environment. Bryan Smith, Mine Development and Blasting Manager at Luck Stone, succinctly captures the essence of this technological leap: 'We leaped in and put the HNS on our drill at Spotsylvania, and we have seen the magic.'

Bryan Smith, Mine Development and Blasting Manager, Luck Stone

The Path Forward

Luck Stone's trials have proven the immense potential of smart mining technology to revolutionize quarry operations. The success at Rockville and Spotsylvania has set the stage for a broader implementation across Luck Stone's operations, signaling a significant shift towards more intelligent, efficient, and safe mining practices. This partnership between Luck Stone and Epiroc epitomizes how embracing innovation can lead to breakthroughs that benefit both businesses and their employees, marking a new chapter in the aggregate production industry.